Both Shenendehowa and Shaker had closed in on the midpoint of the Suburban Council girls’ basketball schedule with little opposition.
But Shaker had too much experience and size when the unbeatens met Tuesday night as the Blue
Bison rolled to an easy 61-33 home win.
“We haven’t played a lot of great opponents,” said Shaker coach Emily Caschera-Blowers, speaking of both her team and the Lady Plainsmen. “We’ve both been blowing teams out.
“This is a big part of proving how good we are. We’re an older, experienced team with a lot of sectional credibility. That was part of our job tonight, to prove to everybody where we belong.”
After Shenendehowa — which started a ninth-grader and two sophomores — used a press to hang with the Blue Bison in the opening moments, Shaker took control of the game with a 10-3 run at the end of the first quarter, as Jenni Barra and Lyric Artis — two of Shaker’s four senior starters — took turns knocking down shots from long range.
“We were on fire at the beginning, making a high percentage of our shots. It took the wind out of their sails a little bit,” said Caschera-Blowers. “They got back into it with their press. We kept turning the ball over, and we had to make some adjustments.
“Our girls adapted. We had a lot of people step up.”
The 18-10 lead after eight minutes could have been larger, but Barra’s half-court buzzer-beater was waved off when it was determined that the ball grazed the cable supporting the backboard on its way down to the netting.
Barra had six of her game-high 17 points in the first quarter, and she, Artis and Merrick Rowland made Shen come out of its man-to-man defense, enabling 6-foot-2 Sage VanAmerongen and 6-1 Becky Rossier to dominate the backboards on the backside of a 2-3 zone.
“We have great big kids,” said Caschera-Blowers, who could have been referring to both their size and ability. “They did a great job of staying on their feet, getting rebounds, getting position.
“Our bigs don’t get enough credit in this league. It’s hard to box out in a zone, but our kids did a good job on the boards.”
“This was definitely a huge game for us,” said Barra. “We came into this game, and we knew we had something to prove. We had a lot of players step up. I thought it was great all-around effort.”
The eight-point lead after one period doubled by halftime as the young Plainsmen were hesitant going inside, and saw some of their perimeter shots knocked away, as well.
Shaker (8-0, 9-0) moved one game ahead of Shenendehowa atop the Suburban Council North Division. Up next for both is a game against one of the top two SC South teams, as Shaker goes to defending league champ Bethlehem, and Shen plays at unbeaten Averill Park.
“I think we showed we’re a force to be reckoned with,” said Barra.
“I don’t think we’ve gotten the recognition we deserve, and we used that as motivation,” said Caschera-Blowers. “Every game, we’re proving we shouldn’t be ranked 30th in the state. We’re better than that.”
Boland 5-3-14, Brown 1-0-2, Acker 3-0-8, Sangare 3-0-6, Lee 0-1-1, Quinn 0-2-2. Totals: 12-6-33.
Barra 7-2-17, Artis 4-0-9, Rossier 2-0-4, Rowland 3-0-8, VanAmerongen, Huba 1-0-2, Mayo 2-0-4, Smith 3-0-7. Totals: 25-7-61.
Shenendehowa 10 7 12 4 — 33
Shaker 18 15 15 12 — 61
Three-point goals: Boland, Acker 2, Barra, Artis, Rowland 2.